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How the Pandemic Brings Sustainability Into Focus in Gastronomy

Products from the region, recyclable to-go packaging, less food waste: sustainability may have started as a trend, but it has long since become a true future movement – particularly in the food service sector. The story of the Portuguese fish restaurant Amor ao Mar in Lisbon shows why this is such an auspicious time for the industry to engage with the topic.

‘At Amor ao Mar, the beginning of the pandemic set in motion a genuine green wave,’ says chef and restaurant owner Rui Moreno. ‘The effects of Covid-19 seem to have opened people’s eyes and sensitised them to a form of business and food service that puts tradition, regionality and environmental consciousness up front,’ the restaurateur explains. But the conditions created by Covid-19 made it hard for the restaurant, whose kitchen already had a regional emphasis, to stay profitable.

This is exactly where MAKRO Portugal came into the picture. Its 360-degree food service consulting focuses consistently on sustainable solutions that are worthwhile for the restaurateur not only for the short term, but over the long term as well. ‘For us at Amor ao Mar, the support from MAKRO came at just the right time,’ says Rui Moreno. ‘Our sales force manager Ana Silveira helped us to work out a plan to put the restaurant in a stable economic position in the new situation, without sacrificing our values or the standards we set for the food we serve.’
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Sustainability as a success factor

Indeed, ‘green’ is no longer merely a label for regionally grown organic products. Rather, sustainability has become a decisive competitive factor. Businesses – including restaurants – are judged by customers for the values they embody. A 2019 survey (‘Let’s talk about sustainability!’) initiated by METRO showed that this is a subject of interest to many restaurateurs. Up to now, however, there have often been hurdles when it comes to implementation – partly due to uncertainty about which aspect of operations to apply it to first.

The toolbox ‘My sustainable restaurant’ shows that sustainability definitely pays. Developed by METRO in collaboration with leading sustainability and food service experts and used by sales force managers in all METRO countries as a basis for the company’s 360-degree consulting, the toolbox doesn’t just name specific products and digital tools – it also points out precisely why sustainability is always a good investment. For example, in addition to benefiting the environment, business owners who utilise resources in a more targeted way and avoid waste of all kinds can also reduce their operating costs. Also, by enhancing their visibility through an own website and social media channels they can grow their business and by that their impact on sustainability – like Amor ao Mar does with support from MAKRO. Those who additionally collaborate with local partners support the local economy and, with it, the economic ecosystem in which their own company operates. Companies for which ‘green’ isn’t simply a public relations catchword, but a concept that drives action, can attract not only loyal customers, but also motivated employees.

Fish

Fish selection with an eye to regionality and fishing conditions

In the case of Amor ao Mar, MAKRO focused above all on the careful selection of food – for example, which fish is prepared and served in the restaurant, with an eye to regionality and the conditions under which it is caught. ‘We additionally helped the customer to restructure the menu for greater efficiency, to save costs and better conserve resources,’ says José Lino of MAKRO Portugal.

‘Our experience here has been very positive and we want to continue to cultivate our relationship with MAKRO, in part to be able to discover and utilise further sustainable solutions,’ says chef Rui Moreno. MAKRO Portugal, too, appreciates the exchange with its customers on this subject: ‘After all, they’ve always been the inspiration for everything that we develop.’ 

Sustainability at METRO

Sustainability is a complex issue. We target our actions on 8 focus areas that affect us and our customers the most and where we create the greatest leverage.
Read more about our sustainability strategy and the 8 strategic focus areas in our Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/20.

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